Welcome to my new guest post series, Ponderings on Two, where I ask a different blogger and parent of more than one child, to share their experience of having a second child. This week, we hear from Sarah, who writes at Toby Goes Bananas.
Tell me a bit about yourself, your family and your blog.
I’m Sarah – recently turned 40, mum to two boys; Toby and Gabe, living in Lancashire and currently taking extended maternity leave from my career as a modern languages teacher. I started my blog, Toby Goes Bananas, when Toby was about three months old and I love that I now have over four years of memories recorded for us to look back on.
What age gap did you have between your first and second children? What’s their relationship like?
There is two years and five weeks between my boys. I have a brother who is exactly two years older than me (our birthdays are the next day to each other) and I always wanted a two year age gap. We were very lucky that I fell pregnant easily so planning the gap worked out for us.
Toby is now four and a half, and Gabe is two and a half and I have to admit the last two and half years have not been the easiest! Having a toddler and a baby is hard work, especially when neither of them sleep (although we are finally over that hurdle thank goodness). The boys love each other intensely but they fight a lot too. They are only really now starting to play together a lot more – Gabe being able to speak and understand more has definitely made a difference to their relationship.
What was the hardest thing about having a second child?
It was a big adjustment going from one to two children, especially in the early days. When Gabe was born Toby still didn’t sleep through the night, and when he woke up he only wanted me. I can remember one night when Gabe was only a couple of weeks old – I was awake feeding him at something like 3 am when Toby woke up too. My husband went to try and settle him but he was just crying ‘mummy, mummy’ over and over. He ended up coming into our bed for a cuddle too before he would calm down. Trying to be there for both children when they need you at the same time is definitely one of the hardest things. That, and refereeing all the fights when they get older!
What was the best thing about having a second child?
When I see them playing together now, or giving each other a cuddle completely unprompted, or walking down the street holding hands, it makes it all worth it. And two children might be double the work but it’s double the love too!
Were there any products that made life with an older sibling and a newborn easier?
Having somewhere safe to put the baby when dealing with the older child (or even just so I could go to the loo!) – we had a great bouncy chair when Gabe was a baby, and then when he got a bit bigger we used a play pen. Also, slightly controversially, Toby started using a tablet a lot more when Gabe was born. When you’re stuck under a cluster feeding newborn you really need something to keep the toddler occupied and sometimes the tablet was the easiest solution!
What’s the best piece of advice you could give someone expecting their second baby?
Having a second baby is hard but in a completely different way to having your first. When I had my first baby I’d never even changed a nappy before, let alone given a baby a bath or tried to get them to sleep. The second time round all that stuff is second nature but it’s the other stuff that’s hard – splitting your time, dealing with a toddler and a baby on three hours sleep, knowing who to go to first when they are both crying… but once you get through the baby days they start interacting and playing together and you will realise it’s all worth it. Oh, and never feel guilty if your toddler watches CBeebies all day while you feed the baby – it’s very educational!